Australia Government Overturns Rules Preventing Funding of Foreign Abortions

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 10, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Government Overturns Rules Preventing Funding of Foreign Abortions

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 10
, 2009

Canberra, Australia ( — The Australian government has joined the Obama administration in the United States in overturning rules meant to stop funding groups that promote and perform abortions abroad. The decision came after members of the Green Party in the Australia Parliament threaten to force MPs to vote on it.

Like the United States prior to the election of President Barack Obama, Australia prohibited forcing taxpayers to fund groups that perform or promote abortions overseas.

While the government of conservative former prime minister John Howard prevented the Australian Agency for International Development from promoting abortions, pro-abortion MPs have pushed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to repeal the policy.

The policy has been place for 13 years and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, who can change the policy without legislation needed in parliament, decided this week to overturn it.

Rudd told members of the Labor caucus on Tuesday that he had long opposed changing the policy but he said his administration did so because he didn’t have enough votes in Parliament to keep the policy in place.

The move has caused outrage for pro-life advocates.

Family First Senator Steve Fielding accused Rudd of not standing his ground after initially providing pro-life MPs assurances he would keep the pro-life protections in place.

"It demonstrates that the prime minister’s words are as solid as quicksand because when it comes to the crunch on value issues, the prime minister wimps out," he said.

The Australian Christian Lobby was also upset by the decision.

"This will be the first time in Australia’s history that our aid dollars are used to kill unborn children overseas," ACL chief Jim Wallace said, according to The Age newspaper.

Other key pro-life senators, including National Ron Boswell, Liberal Guy Barnett and Labor’s Mark Bishop, were also upset.

Boswell said previously that Rudd and members of his government could face a backlash if he approves taxpayer funding of international abortions.
Boswell says there has been no request from nations around the world to fund abortions in their countries.

"I don’t want this to happen and there has been no country that has come to us and specifically said we want aid to fund abortions," Senator Boswell told ABC radio.

"As far as Mr Rudd is concerned, he cuddled up to the churches for the last election — if he does this to them then they’ll turn upon him," Boswell added.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young had previously indicated she thought Smith was taking too long and she and her colleagues wanted to force the parliament vote.

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